Queen Anne Architecture
in Historic Chatham, Virginia

By Henry Mitchell.
Magnolia Manor

Magnolia Manor is Chatham's best Queen Anne example.

The “Queen Anne style” was an exuberant use of machine-made forms and parts which became emblematic of the Victorian Age. Turrets, towers, wrap-around porches, (“Eastlake”) furniture-like spindles, patterned wall shingles, and gingerbreaded gables were fit on massive, asymmetrical buildings with complex roofs.

Since Queen Anne is an eclectic mix, rather than a well-defined style, it is often difficult to recognize. Additionally, its elements often were blended with earlier designs (especially Italianate), concurrent trends (such as Stick and Romanesque) and later developments (Homestead and even Foursquare). During the later years of the Queen Anne fashion, more restrained offshoot styles appeared: the Princess Anne and the Neo-Colonial. With the further passage of time, Queen Anne details were often stripped from the buildings due to decay and the costs of maintenance, to the point that some Queen Annes of yesteryear are not readily identifiable today.

Probably due to the economic constraints lingering from the Civil War and Reconstruction, Chatham missed the early introduction of Queen Anne. However, its influence from around 1880 to 1905 is quite evident even today. Queen Anne homes were built along North Main Street, South Main Street, and Reid Street (which was then a part of the main thoroughfare south). Houses along side streets such as Whittle Street, Lanier Avenue, and Hargrave Boulevard attracted Queen Anne details.

The best “pure” Queen Anne example in Chatham today is Magnolia Manor at 131 North Main Street, built by William B. Shepherd in the 1890's. Its plans are signed by an architect named Marye. It very closely resembles the work of well-known Knoxville architect George F. Barber.

(See also architectural pattern books from the period, containing Queen Anne examples.)

117 Reid Street

Chatham's largest home, the Reid-Bruning house at 117 Reid Street, has numerous Queen Anne features. Most obvious in this photograph is the Eastlake spindlework around the porch.

The Palladian window in the gable would be considered Neo-Colonial in style, rather than Queen Anne, but its effect is softened by its Gothic Revival - influenced diamond panes.

237 South Main Street

237 South Main Street demonstrates a complex roof and a distinctive Queen Anne turret on the porch. (See the house next door, immediately below.)

301 South Main Street

301 South Main Street has a floor plan which was mirrored by its next-door neighbor (immediately above). Rather than a porch turret, though, this house has a turreted tower.

Note again a variation on the Neo-Colonial Palladian window in the dormer.

270 North Main Street

272 North Main Street, the Canada-Chaney House, has numerous obvious Queen Anne features. Some of its forms, however, including the Palladian window and a relative simplicity of line, resemble more the Neo-Colonial fashion.



This website and its ChathamGuide.com portal are sponsored by Mitchells Publications.